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Page 14 THE VILLADOM TIMES I, II, III & IV • December 24, 2008
Last Minute GIFT GUIDE
Trimming the tree, while still trimming the costs
(ARA) This year, crews won’t just be trimming the
National Christmas Tree, they will also be trimming the
nation’s energy bill with the most energy-efficient holi-
day display in our national history.
Lit almost entirely by light-emitting diodes called
LEDs, the 2008 National Christmas Tree display will be
50 percent more energy efficient than last year’s display.
While LEDs were used on the National Tree for the first
time in 2007 at the request of the White House, this year’s
display saves even more energy by eliminating the lighted
garland and making use of smaller, lighter-weight orna-
ments. In fact, 2008 marks the first year that all 56 U.S.
state and territory trees will be powered by LED lights
donated by GE, for a substantial savings in energy.
“LEDs have become the cool, new technology in
lighting, and with good reason,” said Kathy Presciano,
designer of the National Christmas Tree and lighting
designer for GE. “They use a fraction of the energy, and
they last 10 times as long as a traditional incandescent
light. They worked so well for last year’s National Tree,
this year we decided to expand them to the state trees,
too,” Presciano said.
Building a tradition of savings
Having entered the market in force last Christmas
season, pre-lit LED trees, LED light sets, and even LED
outdoor decorations are now a mainstream choice for con-
sumers looking to decorate their homes for the holidays.
“Expect to see them become brighter, more efficient, and
more versatile with each passing year,” Presciano said.
This year’s National Tree will carry more than 37,000
individual LED lights, including the topper and the back-
ground lights. The 42-inch tall, star-shaped tree topper
is an “heirloom” topper used for the last two years. It is
outfitted with industrial grade, white GE Tetra LEDs -
- a product offering of GE’s LED business, Lumination,
LLC. As many as 680, 50-light strings of clear, C5 LEDs
will provide a dazzling backdrop to the tree. Each string
costs only 14 cents to run for a full four-week holiday
season. Presciano noted that for reasons of brightness and
weight restrictions, more than 140 star-shaped ornaments
were created using clear, C7 incandescent lights. Each
ornament weighs less than two pounds. This year’s 12-
inch, 3D ornaments are made from interlocking Lexan
panels with applied, bright gold, holographic mosaic
vinyl. Designed to catch the sun, the ornaments will
make the tree look lit, even when it’s turned off during
While groups from each state are responsible for the
ornaments decorating their own state tree, GE donated
more than 360 strings of clear, C5 LED lights to serve
as their background lights. The clear lights will match
the National Tree and help create a unified look when
the trees are lit, Presciano said.
Waste Not, Want Not
Planning for the 2008 tree started last January as
Presciano began creating architectural drawings of the
ornaments and choosing lights from the GE inventory.
But one of the biggest issues is how to take down the
lights at the end of the season.
“With LEDs lasting so much longer, we’re carefully
taking them off and storing them so we can create an
inventory of light resources for the country that will last
for years,” Presciano said. Last year’s garland, topper,
ornaments and multi-colored strings were saved, she
noted, and should be rotated back into use in years to
come. GE has been designing the National Christmas Tree
since 1962, producing and donating the lighting and dec-
orations. Presciano has personally designed every tree
“It may take months of planning and work to design
the tree, but there’s nothing quite like the reward you
get when the President flips the switch and the tree just
comes to life. It’s the symbol of the holidays, and the
blessing of being able to celebrate together, in freedom.
It’s an honor for GE to be a part of that,” she said.
The lighting of the National Christmas Tree is an
unbroken tradition that began in 1923 when Calvin
Coolidge lit the first tree on the Ellipse. The event is
sponsored by the National Park Foundation, official
charitable partner of America’s National Parks, and the
National Park Service.